The Motive – Our Conclusions
So what have we learned? What are the takeaways which will change, or at least give us cause to consider, our role as leaders?
As leaders we face two big challenges – one external and one internal. The external challenge is perhaps easiest to identify and address, but arguably takes the longest time to change. The internal challenge is all about us and likely to be the hardest thing to change.
Firstly, external. There is a perception of what leadership is. This is built on what we see on the TV or read about in the news; charactures of leaders from the past and/or our own personal experiences. We’ve worked with leaders who are selfish, egotistical and focused on the rewards. We see it in our politics, as elected officials chose the polls and re-election over what is for the greater good, and claiming they are the best placed person to make the changes needed – here in lies the irony. They are the best placed person; they just aren’t necessarily the best person!
If people are seeing leadership being modelled in this way, then it’s entirely logical and natural that this is the type of leaders created and grown. As a parent there are lots of things that I’m pleased I model for my children and I can see these things being played out in how they work and operate. But there are also lots of things I’m not good at which they also model – things where I need to be better and improve and which I find hard to see being played out. I (and we) need to do better to model a better way of leading.
This leads into the second challenge – our internal one. As highlighted earlier, this is perhaps the biggest challenge we face. We have spent a long time learning how to be ourselves. We understand what makes us tick, what we like and what we don’t like in essence what motivates us. For some people responsibility-led leadership comes naturally. It fits into our personal belief structures and our understandings of selflessness, community, compassion, devotion, integrity (and fun – the ever-dangerous fun!) For others however, this space is something new and they need to work at and address it. We all have the natural tendency to enjoy reward-centred leadership – it’s important that we are careful about falling into this trap and are mindful of remaining true to our principles and beliefs. We may want a mentor or someone to hold us accountable to our choices and behaviours. We may decide a group within our team who we give permission to speak into our leadership, especially if we, are or run the risk of, getting it wrong is more beneficial.
Ultimately, we need to continuously return to the key question – why are we leading? Are we leading for ourselves or leading for others? If we are leading for ourselves, I suggest we need to take a long hard look at why we’re in leadership and whether we’re actually leading at all. If, on the other hand, we’re leading for others, we need to hold onto this carefully, and model this throughout our teams. If we can do this, then we’re well on the way to changing the external challenge and growing the next generation of responsibility-led leaders…
Happy thinking and do come back to me with your thoughts, ideas, questions and challenges… we grow in discussion and adversity, not through everyone nodding in agreement with our own self-found wisdom!